There are 32 teams in the NFL. With every team starting a quarterback each and every week, that’s 32 starting quarterbacks in the best football league on the planet. In a perfect world, the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL would be the 32 best quarterbacks in the world. I am here to say that Johnny Manziel is one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the world, and the Browns would be silly to get rid of him.
The Browns have started some futile names at quarterback over the last couple of decades. Tim Couch, Brian Hoyer, Seneca Wallace, Brady Quinn, Austin Davis, Thad Lewis… The man that entered this year as the starter, Josh McCown, is no Pro Bowler either. McCown was a backup for most of his career for a reason: You might be able to go 8-8 with him, but he will not be taking you to the Promised Land of Playing a Meaningful Football Game in February. That is something that Manziel, in the right situation, can do.
This is a complicated idea. Johnny Football causes a lot of off-the-field hubbub, and that is no good for anyone. However the goal of an NFL team is to win football games, and the Cleveland Browns are not exactly setting the world on fire in that department lately. Manziel went 2-4 as a starter this year, but showed his potential throughout the season to make plays few other quarterbacks can make. You don’t win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman by accident.
The Browns have a couple of options as it comes to their quarterback situation in the next couple of years. The first is to get rid of Johnny, rid yourself of all the off-the-field exploits that can drive a front office crazy. They would then probably bring in a more stereotypical pocket passer who if they are lucky finds himself at the back end of the top 32. They would run a standard offense with their team that is lacking a whole lot of weapons offensively, and probably continue to lose games. While many Browns fans have become desensitized to losing, there are many that still want to win.
The best chance the Cleveland Browns have to win games in the next year or two is to go all-in on Johnny Football. Let Johnny be Johnny. Bring in an offensive coordinator who is willing to design his whole offense around Manziel’s strengths. Make sure you have a backup that can do some of the things Johnny can, in case he gets hurt. And then let Johnny Football play freely in this scheme that was created just for him. His skillset is unique; anyone will agree with that. You wouldn’t put Ozzie Smith at first base when he is the greatest fielding shortstop of all time, just as you wouldn’t make Johnny Manziel run an offense designed for Josh McCown while Manziel is one of the most creative quarterbacks in recent memory. The team’s best chance at winning is to let Johnny Football make something out of nothing, scrambling his way to victories.
I know, as most people reading this know, that the Browns will probably choose the first option. They will probably let Johnny Manziel go, letting him seek employment elsewhere. It could even happen before this piece is printed. The riskier choice is certainly keeping Manziel; you’re going all in on a player who could be a PR disaster, could get injured easily, or could set your team back five years because you went all in for him.
However the thing that Johnny Football brings to the table more than anyone else who could play quarterback for the Browns next year is the chance at a ring. The chance isn’t great. There are many quarterbacks who are more proven at winning than Manziel. But those guys aren’t coming to Cleveland anytime soon.
New coaches will come in and want to make their mark … Let’s be honest, whoever comes in will be gone in a few years without winning games. The best chance to win is already under contract for the brown and orange, and his name is Johnny Manziel. Sometimes you have to shoot for the stars with the risk of falling very hard, and this is one of those times.
The Browns should have Johnny Football under center (well, in shotgun) come Week 1, 2016.